Despite the music and singing, Willi was still in a foul mood. Today's sorties were complete dud's. His right arm was still tender from having to fight to keep control of his Frankenfokker for the better part of six hours. Even the collar of his uniform was getting on his nerves, but he had to keep it buttoned up if he wanted to walk around with his Blaue Max. The others left him alone. They knew this face and also knew that after a few drinks it would eventually relax too.
“May I join you Willi ?” said the Hauptmann as he started to sit down, knowing that a No would not be the answer. “Anything wrong Willi ? Looks like someone forced an air-screw up your Buttocks.”
Willi sort of froze, not quite sure how to reply to this one. But then things would never change if he said nothing. “Herr Hptm, this mornings run was a complete waste of time. I mean, 0:dark thirty at 3000m, in muck. What are the chances of finding anyone? We had to fight the weather and not Tommy the whole day. And then this half-wit Roland pilot this afternoon. I could of easily shot him instead of the N17. He also could of crashed my bus by mistake. It was just a bad day, that's all I guess, Herr Hptm.”
“I know Willi. Some days are just what they are, DUD. Anyway, I got a call from that Roland chap of yours. Said you left him no choice. Claims your Fokker was to slow and that the Franzman would of got away. What do you say to that Willi?”
Willi's eyes rolled as he turned his head slightly. “Next time I'll shoot him down instead then, Sir”
The Hptm smiled and sat back. He called for two more drinks. “My turn Willi. Listen I also got a call from HQ this afternoon. Seems they are impressed with your service thus far. We had some small talk and such.” The drinks arrived and Willi showed his gratitude by nodding his head.
“Willi, would you like to have your own Jasta ?” the Hptm blurted out.
Again the Hptm had sprung an ambush, a completely successful one too. Willi was caught off guard . His brain went into a sort of limbo. “Well, I never thought about such a move Herr Hptm. I mean I only live day to day thus far.”
“Ahh yes Willi, and your good at that. But instead of just being part of a dud day, you could plan a dud day and experience the joy when it works out positive. You already command the respect of everyone here. You can fly well enough. Hell you make the decisions for most flights anyway. I think it's time you had a say in our little war.”
“Danke Herr Hptm. Are you asking me to go?”
“Not at all Willi, but I think your the man that HQ is looking for.”
“And where if may ask Herr Hptm?”
“To Verdun. Jasta 6 just lost their Kommander. They have been having a terrible time down there. They need someone they don't know, someone to lead them Willi. What do you say Willi, have a go, change things when you can.”
Willi thought for a short while and decided that he was ready for this. “Ja Herr Hptm, I'll do it.”
“Splendid Willi, It comes with a promotion of course, Herr Obltn Rosenstein.” And with that the Hptm stood up and loudly announced, “Meiner Herren, a toast. A toast to the new Kommanding officer of Jasta 6, Obltn Willi Rosenstein.” Everyone raised their glasses and roaring cheer went up. Willi was carried off on the shoulders of two other Pilots. It was to become a very long and wet night for Willi.